I was recently commissioned to paint the Lemon Tree Trust Garden at the Chelsea Flower Show. I was very excited when I saw the garden; a large lemon tree planted in the middle, surrounded by flowers and olive trees. The trust supports gardening initiatives in refugee communities as a way of restoring dignity, purpose and cultural identity. After walking around the garden and looking at various angles and viewpoints I found my favourite and got to work. It was a wonderful day and I met some fantastic people working for a wonderful cause.
In April I spent a couple of weeks in the magical city of Florence where I started my career as a painter. I painted a head study alongside a friend of mine whilst there as well as painting some of the stunning Italian landscape in and around the city.
I enjoyed painting in the Boboli Gardens especially and was really taken by the light that flooded on to the Viottoloni Avenue one afternoon as I was walking around deciding where to pitch my easel. The sun was soon overridden by some large clouds and it began to rain. The rain came and went and I was thankfully able to finish my painting!
While I was in Florence I set up my easel above the city in Pian Dei Giullari where I used to go when I was studying there to escape the hot and crowded city for some fresh countryside air. Although a steep climb up the hill, the views are extraordinary; rolling tuscan hills and olive groves seem to go on for miles! I painted up there on a couple of occassions.
February took me to Venice for a couple of weeks, a painters paradise which left me feeling excited and inspired despite the rainy weather. Venice has a charm to it that never really fades for me; the light in Venice is unique, and having not been before in February I discovered that I really loved the challenge of capturing the rainy reflections and muted colours.
On one of my first days there I was lucky to find a spot to paint under the arches in Piazza San Marco. Here I had a wonderful view of the Palace and was particularly drawn to the geometry of the subject and muted greys and pinks that lay before me. The painting is shown below.